Urban Enterprise Zone Authority Highlights Projects in Camden that Are Helping Small Businesses in the City

UEZ Investments Over the Last Year Making Significant Improvements

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ affiliate, Urban Enterprise Zone Authority (UEZA), is proud to showcase the positive changes taking place in the city of Camden, aided by an investment of more than $2 million in UEZ funding allocated in the past year to support various community improvement initiatives, with a special focus on bolstering the city’s small businesses.

The UEZA offers business and tax incentives with the primary objective of reinvigorating designated urban communities, driving growth by encouraging businesses to expand and create private sector employment opportunities through a blend of public and private investments.

The improvements, which include a business façade program and small business loan and marketing initiatives, were funded by the UEZA over the last year.

“Camden is rising thanks in no small part to the increasing number and variety of small businesses, which are creating jobs and investing in the city’s future,” said DCA Acting Commissioner Jacquelyn A. Suárez. “The UEZ Program is supporting this progress through Zone Assistance Funds, which are helping small business owners in Camden afford to make improvements to their storefronts and market their goods and services. By helping to uplift the small business community in Camden, the UEZ Program is helping to uplift its residents and neighborhoods.”

The Camden Strong Façade program, backed by a $1.2 million grant from the UEZA, is designed to enhance the visual appeal and overall quality of businesses in the city’s commercial areas. The initiative offers businesses a substantial financial boost of up to $50,000 for exterior improvements, employing a matching fund model, with participants contributing a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000.

“Our primary goal is to nurture our small businesses,” said Joe Thomas, the UEZ coordinator for Camden. “A substantial portion of our local businesses are small, family-owned enterprises. We are steadfast in our resolve to empower and sustain them.”

Thomas highlighted the overwhelming response to the program, stating, “We opened our application portal for this program on a Thursday, and by Friday, we had 41 applications. Many business owners are eligible to receive financial awards and tax incentives, enabling them to leverage UEZ funding with other resources for more substantial improvements.”

The Camden Strong Façade program’s core mission is to stimulate new investment and attract new customers to Camden. Another goal is to enhance the overall quality of the urban streetscape, assist small business owners in making their storefronts more enticing to customers, and to generally encourage investment across the city.

In addition to the Strong Façade project, UEZ funding has been utilized in various loan programs and marketing efforts, including professional testimonial videos and billboard campaigns.

Thomas is also enthusiastic about expanding UEZ membership in Camden, stating, “With more members, there’s more funds available to create jobs and modernize our community. We have 174 business members in the UEZ program, up from 110 in 2021.” 

To learn more about Camden’s UEZ incentives, visit UEZ – The City of Camden.

The Urban Enterprise Zone program was originally established in 1983. In August 2021, Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver signed legislation that appropriated $42.5 million to the program, enabling an expansion of UEZA services within the designated UEZ zones.

A main benefit of the revitalized UEZ program is the Zone Assistance Funds, providing flexible revenue to communities for economic development. In the two years since the program’s 2021 relaunch, UEZA has awarded more than $40 million in Zone Assistance Funds to 140 municipal-level projects. Additionally, participating businesses within the zones receive a reduced sales tax rate (currently 3.3125%), as well as tax-free purchases on capital equipment, facility expansions and similar investments.

Camden was one of the state’s five original UEZ cities, along with Trenton, Newark, Plainfield, and Bridgeton. There are currently over 6,000 businesses participating in the program throughout the state.

For more information about the UEZA, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/uez/

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, rental assistance, fire safety, building safety, disaster recovery and mitigation, historic preservation, community planning and development, and information privacy.